Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Familiar, but not so Much

When you smell a hospital, you know things are bad. The hospital smell is so tightly linked to Bad Things. Maybe if I had a baby. Maybe then hospitals would remind me of We're Gonna Have a Baby. I haven't been to hospitals enough to have any good memories attached to the experience.

The first time was when I was 10 and broke my arm running backwards in a relay race at school. I was winning, I tell you, when I tripped on the back of my white saddle shoe, and slammed down onto my left wrist. The sharp pain thrust up my arm and I was taken to the nurses office, screaming bloody murder. The nurse assured me, there was no swelling, and it was a sprain. I refused to move it, and I cried non-stop until she let me go home. That evening, I couldn't sleep, and my grandmother who's a registered nurse(well, in her day) also assured me that it wasn't broken. My Mother finally called in sick the next day, since I absolutely refused to go to school with my arm hurting like that. I'll never forget the words she told me as she made that phone call to work. "Let me tell you, S, if that arm isn't broken, I'm gonna break it." I believed her. Needless to say, after an X Ray it was broken and I was stuck in a cast.

The second time was about a year later when I had to say goodbye to my great uncle, Zio. He was a man I'd really only seen here and there during visits to his home. He'd gotten quite old and senile over the years and was living with my Grandmother. He had a stroke, I think, and I hid behind my Grandmother, my face buried deep into her side, and Uncle Zio reached out for me. "Roberta," he kept calling me. "Roberta, give me back my cupcake." I thought it was pretty funny, because at that age the funniest thing to come out of an old man's mouth is "Roberta, give me back my cupcake." I think he got angry with me for laughing, as did everyone else, and the laughter became so uncontrollable that they finally had to take me out of the room. My Grandfather took me to McDonald's and I got popoids in my Happy meal. Remember those?

When my father was in the hospital, I remember those sliding doors opening in front of me and the rush of hospital smell, and I realized that this was the third time. The third real time. I'd been to the hospital myself, a few more times before this, but it was different, and I knew it would be my third real experience in a hospital. The smell soaked into my skin and I felt like I was just sprayed with Lysol.

I weaved around the hallways when I was called in, afraid to peek into the patient rooms where the doors were cracked open. I was afraid I'd see terrible things inside. Every one of those rooms held someone sick, or hurt or dying, someone that was sad that person was sick hurt or dying, and someone trying to fix the person sick, hurt, or dying. There was literally so much sadness on my father's floor that I felt like the whole building was going to break down into sobs. Other than a few beeping noises and scurrying feet, I was amazed at how quiet the place was. A heavy sadness...a tense hush like someone was trying to fall asleep.

After the visit and going home, I got the call from my Older sister, Roxy. There it was. "S, he's gone." The first word that came out of my mouth was,"Whoa." Gone. Gone or passed away are the words people use when it's too fresh to say the word dead. Like lost. Missing. Not there. Gone.

And that was it. All the panicking, planning, frantic phone calls, rushing to see him. It was all over. It was all for nothing, because I'd never get to see him again. I'd never get to hear his voice again. My tears started but not until much later, since it was such a shock that I had just seen him one day prior. I lost it, alone. I wasn't controlling anything. I wasn't aware of anything.

Then it was just me. I was all alone. I have a dead Dad. How the hell did that happen? I didn't have a dead Dad last week, or even yesterday. Hell, I didn't even have a dead Dad a few hours ago. His phone number is still fresh in my phone's call history, for Christ's sake. Now if someone asked me how my Dad was, I'd have to say he was dead.

I've always felt an uneasy feeling about not being there by his side when he died. His wife was a bitch, and I assume that she left him suffering. When I went to scatter his ashes with my Mom, I still felt uneasy. I felt like I had missed something. I took a step closer as my mother scattered his ashes, and felt a chill. A small breeze. Then everything was very still again. I looked up and saw the trees move just a bit right past me.

My body relaxed, and my breath rushed out of me. I didn't cry. Thanks for waiting for me Dad...I smiled, telling him in my mind that I'll miss him. At that moment I breathed in the last moments of my father that lingered.

Sometimes it hits me all over again that he's gone. This morning, someone sent me photos from the memorial and the first thing the popped into my mind, was, these are great, I should send them to Dad! Then I feel it. I'll never send him anything again. I found myself writing him an email the other day, that I knew he'd never get. Of course it came back. Undeliverable. Final. His phone number is still in my phone, and I can't bring myself to delete it. It hurts so much sometimes, and others I can smile it away. I think today is a day that I can't hide behind smiles. I miss my Dad.

To anyone that had the patience to sit here and read this whole post, it means a lot to me.


  1. Hugs and best wishes are winging their way to you.

  2. Hospitals are not the most pleasant place to be as 98% of the time you are in one it is not for a happy reason.

    Big hugs to you!!!!

  3. I've never commented here but I have been reading your blog for a while.

    I'm sure your dad is looking down at you with a big smile on his face. And believe me, he got that email you sent him.

  4. Bunny,
    Thanks. It means a lot.

    I really do need to think of something else to call you. Hospitals are yucky places. I always leave feeling like I'm made out of latex or something. Thanks for the hug. I needed it.

    Sweet Ass,
    Thanks to you, too.

    thanks for commenting. I love new readers. I often wonder about the afterlife. When I was a kid, I imagined the only people that could be ghosts were those that were buried. I imagined that those that were cremated, couldn't. In any case, I still find myself talking to him, sometimes in hopes that he can hear me.

  5. BIIIG hugs to you... i dunno what i would do if i lost my daddy darling.
    i think blogging about how you feel and allowing yourself to feel it is very brave and therapeutic!

  6. Dear curious girl,

    it did not take huge patience to read this post. i may not understand exactly how you feel, but i know how horrible and deeply sad i felt when my mother died. i thought i was going to drown in the grief. it would wash over me and take me completely by surprise. and always at the oddest times. once, i was walking through a mall and passed a gift store. a music box was playing a piece of music my mom used to play on her piano. i stopped and just cried and cried and cried. it took about a year for those kinds of things to not affect me so much. it helped me to not try to stop it, to just let it come.
    let me know if you want to talk